Reports in Italy have suggested Vincenzo Nibali could move to Ineos Grenadiers for 2022 to take up a role as a mentor to younger Grand Tour riders in the final year of his career. However his agent moved quickly to play down the reports on his behalf, saying there has not been any talks with the British team, with Nibali due to meet management at Trek-Segafredo in the new year to discuss his future.
Nibali joined Trek-Segafredo this season and is under contract until 2021. He has won all three Grand Tours during his career but was only seventh in this year’s Giro d’Italia after suffering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and lack of racing more than younger rivals.
The 36-year-old Sicilian has often said he would retire at the end of 2021 but according to well-informed Italian television journalist Beppe Conti, he could race on for a further season. Conti is known for his ‘petardo’ or ‘firecracker’ transfers news. Some turn out to be true but others less so.
“It might not seem true but my sources are very good, Nibali has received an offer for 2022 from Ineos. It seems the offer comes via Pinarello,” Conti claimed during RAI Sport’s weekly cycling show.
“Nibali began racing on a Pinarello at Fassa Bortolo and the idea is for him to end his career on a Pinarello, acting as mentor for the team’s Grand Tour riders like Egan Bernal, Tao Goeghagan Hart, Richard Carapaz and Aleksandr Vlasov, who is also tipped to join Ineos in 2022.
“With Froome no longer in the team, they need a leader to help guide the young riders. I understand there’s been an important offer. It’s all still to be decided but we’ll see how Nibali responds.”
Nibali had planned to retire in 2021, with the Tokyo Olympic Games a major goal. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has given him time to reflect and he has hinted about racing on in 2022.
He has a contract with Trek-Segafredo and his agent Alex Carera quickly down played talk about a move to Ineos in 2022, dismissing Conti’s claims.
Ineos Grenadiers preferred not to comment when contacted by Cyclingnews.
“We haven’t had any talks with Ineos. Vincenzo has a contract with Trek-Segafredo for 2021 and he’s very happy there,” Carera told Cyclingnews.
“Vincenzo has still to decide on his future but we always said we’d meet up with the Trek-Segafredo team management in the new year to talk about that. We’d only consider other options and other offers if we didn’t reach an agreement with them.”
Trek-Segafredo have made few changes to their roster for 2021. Richie Porte has moved to Ineos Grenadiers while Bauke Mollema has extended his contract until the end of 2022. Giulio Ciccone remains as the team’s other Grand Tour leader.
Nibali celebrates his 36th birthday on November 14 but dismissed the idea that his age would be an impediment in 2021.
“That’s not so old that you should be cast aside, despite what the keyboard warriors might write. The key thing is your desire and the pleasure you get from riding a bike,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
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